Cornell celebrated one of its newest traditions on Tuesday as Cornell students, faculty and alumni contributed to the University’s third annual Giving Day, a campus-wide initiative to raise gifts for specific campus organizations which raised just over $6 million in a 24-hour window.
According to Nicole Cook, director of Marketing and Participation for Cornell Annual Giving Programs, participants from all 50 states and more than 40 countries donated gifts last year.
“Giving Day celebrates the great work that happens every day at Cornell and the impact that it has on the world,” Cook said. “Giving Day celebrates what can happen when many people come together to make a difference.”
The day emphasizes the variety of causes that are prominent at Cornell. More than 100 organizations from around the University will be featured online on Giving Day, allowing donors to give to specific programs and areas that they feel passionate about, according to Cook.
Lisa Kremer Ullmann ’81 found the chance to give back to her alma mater through a community event to be a rewarding experience.
“Giving Day is a fun, spirited day where Cornell alums join together to give to Cornell,” she said.
Interested alumni followed results throughout the day, and the Class of 1981 even planned a “pie in the face” challenge for when they reach a certain number of donors, according to Ullmann.
“A class officer gets a pie in the face and the video is posted in the Cornell University Class of 1981 Alumni facebook page,” she explained.
While donors appreciated the chance to give back through an exciting event, the Cornell programs that were involved enjoyed the chance to interact with their supporters. Richard Bowman, Cornell Women’s Track and Field coach, said that the event was not only an important way to support the program, but also a fun way to connect with alumni.
“Obviously, any additional funding for the program is a huge benefit, but a bigger part of all of this is the alumni involvement and the ability to form closer ties with them,” he said. “Giving Day gives us another chance to connect with former athletes and friends of Cornell Track and Field.”
Students at Cornell participating in programs which benefit from Giving Day are also able to gain many additional opportunities through money raised by the event. As a member of the women’s rowing team, Emily Wuebbolt ’18 thought the support of alumni was invaluable.
“Our alumni are extremely important to us as a team,” she said. “They have provided us with the opportunity to compete abroad, race in top of the line boats and travel to Florida to train. Their constant support allows us to compete against the best programs in the world and we cannot thank them enough.”
Bowman agreed, commenting on how the day-long donation opportunity connected alumni with current students.
“I’m amazed at the generosity of our alumni and friends and it is always fun to catch up with many past students at this time,” Bowman said.
This event also allows undergraduate colleges to reach out to specific alumni and ask for support.
The business school, which participated as a separate entity for the first time, mobilized the alumni of the Dyson program, the Hotel School and the Johnson Graduate School of Management to support the new SC Johnson College of Business.
Tim Oonk, director of development for the Dyson school, noted the event’s role in raising awareness among alumni about the the school’s reorganization.
“There are a number of alumni who are interested in their gifts flowing specifically to the Dyson School where they connected strongest,” Oonk said. “In part, Giving Day is helping raise an awareness among our alumni that they can donate specifically to the Dyson School as well as raising awareness that we are a part of the larger college of business.”
This is the third annual Giving Day at Cornell, according to Cook, and the event was successful.
“Last year, we received 10,100 gifts from 7,743 donors,” she said. “Donors see the impact of their gifts immediately as they combine with others from around the world throughout the day to add up to a grand total. Gifts and dollars are counted in real time and there are challenges and social media activities throughout the day to generate additional excitement.”
To Cook, the event is not only beneficial to the University, but an emerging Cornell tradition.
“People participate in Giving Day because they can see that their gift, no matter the size, truly makes a difference and because it is a fun way to give, connect with other Cornellians and be part of something big,” Cook said.